A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new adventure that we are about to begin. Something that I’ve been desiring but haven’t had the nerve to actually step out and pursue. First, if you felt I left you hanging for far too long, I apologize. I needed time to process everything and learn how to articulate what it is that God’s doing. I still don’t know if I have the right words, so please bear with me. I’m going to do the best I can. I think it will become more clear as time passes. But for now, this is the story.
Since returning from our seven weeks in Kenya nearly two years ago, I have had an urge to live differently. I think it’s hard for just about anyone to travel to a third-world country and not desire some kind of change, even in very tiny ways. We took very little with us for those seven weeks, filling most of our six, large, Rubbermaid containers with items from the missionary and hospital staff wish list. Nice pens, salami, powdered Crystal Light, American candy bars, peanut butter. We each took five to seven outfits and two pairs of shoes along with one sweatshirt, a pair of pajamas, a special blanket for each of the kids and the essential toiletries for each of us. We packed a few books and toys for Ella and Sam to share along with a couple books and the laptop for Pete & me. I suppose we had a few other items as well, but that was close to everything. We didn’t want or need much. During our seven weeks in that beautiful African country, we didn’t miss a single thing. We borrowed books, toys, and movies from the neighbors. We used what furniture and appliances were provided in our two-bedroom apartment. I found a few tea cups in the kitchen to display across the mantle and made a double strand of bunting to decorate the wall with a bit of string, a needle, and a cut-up, out-of-date calendar I found in a drawer. That was all we needed. It’s what we had and we were happy.
I’ve longed to return to that state of simplicity. Some may think it was fine for us because we were only there for two months, but I know in my heart that the kind of simplicity we experienced during that time is what I was made to pursue. I’ve avoided it until now, telling myself that we will live in that state again as soon as we are back in Kenya. However, our move is still at least an entire year away. In the last year, we’ve organized, purged, sold everything in an estate sale, and moved houses. Each step has gotten us closer to the simplicityy my heart desires. But we still have room to grow.
Since moving into our new home, I’ve felt the urge to continue to simplify. Finally, a few weeks ago, God woke me in the night with what felt like a clear call to radical simplicity. Pete & I have shared the call with close friends and have felt it confirmed in multiple ways. We’re both so excited that it keeps us up at night, talking about what we can cut out of our budget and praying for guidance. I’ve also read a couple books during this time that have helped put words and scriptures to my thoughts.
In Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I grabbed onto the idea of “radical simplicity & radical obedience.” This is exactly what Pete & I feel we’re stepping in to for this time. We want to make things incredibly simple in whatever way God leads us and to use that simplicity to draw us into deeper relationship with him. There is nothing I love more than hearing my Papa’s voice (a deep yearning in my heart & gut, not an actual, audible voice) and pursuing his desires for me. I have seen too much personal growth and experienced too many incredible adventures to want anything outside of his will for me. Yes, it can be a bit scary, but it can be even more exciting.
So, here’s the plan. For six months, starting January 12, we will buy nothing outside of necessity. We have gone through our budget with a fine-tooth comb and cut out everything we don’t need. We’ve drastically cut down our budget in the areas of food, household goods, gas, and toiletries. We’ve completely cut out most entertainment, restaurants, clothing, and subscriptions. There are a few things we’ve really needed to pray about, which is why we didn’t start the day after we heard God speak to us. We will continue to have our nanny, Donna, spend three hours, four afternoons a week with the kids. This will allow me time to process and write about this time of simplification, which I feel God is leading me to share here on the blog. Donna is an amazing presence in our family. She is like a third grandmother to our little ones and loves Jesus as much as we do.
This entire process is going to be all about praying and listening to where Jesus is leading us. If we feel we need to simplify more in one area, we will. This will be an ongoing experience that we hope will break us from the mindless consumerism that our family has become quite comfortable with in our daily lives. If I want something, I hop onto Amazon and have it on my doorstep in two days, sometimes less. Or I can run up to Target and fill my cart to the brim and not even watch the price as I swipe my check card with one hand and sip a Starbucks latte with the other. I am going to stop wishing to live a life of simplicity and we, as a family, are going to pursue it.
One last thing. We recognize that this is what God is doing in our family at this time. Each individual and family has a unique path. We encourage you to pray and discover what God is doing in your life, because that is the very best, most exciting thing you could possibly do.
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